BEIJING - Agence France-Presse
Two people were killed yesterday in deliberately set explosions aboard two public buses in a major Chinese city, police said, heightening security concerns less than three weeks before the Olympics.
The blasts occurred about an hour apart during morning rush hour traffic in downtown Kunming, the capital of southwest China's Yunnan province, the city's police department said in a statement.
"According to preliminary investigations, the explosions were cases of man-made, deliberate sabotage," a spokesman with the Yunnan Public Security Bureau told AFP by phone, without giving further details.
The incidents add to tensions ahead of next month's Beijing Olympics, which have been stoked by repeated government warnings about a dire terrorism threat facing the Games.
The government also has expressed deep concern about social unrest marring efforts to portray a harmonious and stable country ahead of the Olympics, amid recent violent protests in Yunnan and elsewhere.
The first blast occurred at about 7:00 am (2300 GMT Sunday) at a bus stop on Renmin West Road, a major Kunming artery, killing one woman and injuring 10 other people, police said.
"The glass on both sides of the vehicle was all shattered and some of the seats were warped," they said.
The second blast, which came about an hour later on the same road and killed one man, injuring four others, police said.
A foreign employee at a Kunming hotel told AFP by phone the attacks had raised tensions in the normally relaxed city of six million people, which is about 2,100 kilometers (1,300 miles) southwest of Beijing.
"People are very shaken. This has created a shock," said the man, who asked not to be identified.
Footage on state-run television showed a gaping hole blown in the side of one of the buses and extensive interior damage. A carpet of shattered glass on lay on the road from blown-out windows.
Following the blasts, police cordoned off some streets in the area and carried out identity checks in a search for any "suspicious" persons, the Yunnan Public Security Bureau said in a statement.
The owner of a business near the second blast site who gave only his surname Li said Renmin West Road remained cordoned off between the two blast sites by late afternoon, with many businesses closed.
Contacted by AFP, police denied a report by the official China News Service that there had been three separate blasts, causing three deaths.
China has dramatically tightened security in Beijing and elsewhere ahead of the August 8-24 Olympics.
It says a serious terrorism threat is posed by Muslim militants in the restive northwestern Xinjiang region, where Chinese control is widely resented.
Officials also have hinted at possible attacks by Tibetan independence supporters following an outburst of violent unrest in March that was firmly put down by China.
However, there are also tens of thousands of protests each year across the country by marginalized people angry over official corruption and other injustices.
In the latest incident, more than 1,000 rubber growers in Yunnan clashed with police on Saturday in a village about 400 kilometers from Kunming near the Myanmar border.
Police killed two people in the clash, triggered by a dispute over the sale of the crops, according to accounts by the police and a Hong Kong rights group.In May, three people died when a public bus in Shanghai burst into flames. Police blamed flammable liquids brought aboard the vehicle but have provided no other explanation.